How do you explain your job at a dinner party?
First, I need to explain for 10 minutes that I don’t work for a dealership. Once that's established I attempt to explain my job. After failing at that, I usually tell people I work with our dealers on making the car buying process easier for both consumers and dealers. We're continuing to refine elements of the purchasing process and leveraging analog and digital processes that will reduce friction throughout the process. We as a team have been focusing on digital, specifically website generated opportunities and helping our dealers understand on how best to convert them. A large part of my focus now is working in partnership with our dealers on how we do a better job passing online consumer intent in a digestible way to our sales force. We want ensure they have a better understanding of what consumers' interests are before they walk in the door. We ideally want our Audi Brand Specialists picking up the shopping conversation from where the consumer is at versus starting from scratch. The goal is to deliver a true consumer-centric experience that benefits both the consumer and the dealer.
What are you passionate about right now at work?
It’s the opportunity to shape our consulting practice with dealers and business analytics. We know disruption is on the horizon for our industry – any evolution requires change management and the ability to convert data into insights. We work with our partners to think differently, not only based on how we feel about something but also based on what the data says. We want to go beyond just the data and get to the insights. Insights will ultimately drive behavioral change. Undoubtedly, this is an important time in our business and I’m excited to play a role in its transformation for Audi.
What about outside of work?
First of course is my 17-year-old son. It's an amazing (and challenging) experience to watch him develop from a boy to a young adult right in front of my eyes. Plus he hasn’t fully rebelled from his father just yet.
On a personal note, I'm an avid weekend warrior, so I play baseball and basketball most Sundays. I will keep strapping up the sneakers or cleats as long as I physically can. My other passion has always been the automobile. I've been drawing cars since I was two, including a few times on my grandmother's wall. I leveraged my toddler cuteness to avoid major punishment.
What’s your favorite memory that involves an automobile?
Pretending to drive my grandfather’s 1969 Dodge Charger R/T. I would leverage my said cuteness to drag my grandmother into the car and we would pretend to drive around running errands.
Who’s your personal hero?
Without question it would have to be my grandmother. Recently divorced, she emigrated from Cuba in 1959 with her two very young boys to Hell’s Kitchen, New York. She embodied the immigrant mentality. She was hardworking, running her own seamstress business and starting a restaurant in D.C. with my step-grandfather, and she was sincerely dedicated to her family. She had the ability to be equally tough and nurturing. She was a very progressive woman for her time, even in her later years she was well-read on current events and trends. She actually taught herself English through reading. She would even entertain me by listening to hip hop from time to time.
I can only hope to come close to the standard she set. If you could imagine during the 1960s, she came from an upper-middle class environment in Cuba, to literally just taking the clothes from her back to come to the U.S. and quickly established herself and built a foundation in Hell's Kitchen. Her ability to do that is a testament to her character.
What’s the last show you binge-watched and why?
"Altered Carbon" on Netflix. I’m a huge Sci-Fi fan, so add a little bit of future dystopian world, sprinkle in some alternative reality and top it off with some AI action and you'll have me hooked on a rainy weekend.
What did you listen to on your drive to work this morning?
"Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa. I had the need to get hyped up.
What was your first job?
My first real job was a telemarketer for the UJA (United Jewish Appeal). The name they assigned me was Michael Shapiro. Let me just say I wasn’t successful in pulling that off. I remember there was a gentleman I called, and I said, "Hi, I'm Mike Shapiro." And he said in a quintessential Brooklyn accent, "Mike Shapiro…Yea right!" But the relentlessness that's required in telemarketing did lead me into my automotive career. It became a selling point in interviews, "Oh, you have telemarketing experience? You're not afraid to be rejected a bunch of times? Here, why don't you join our internet department?"
Why did you decide to become a part of the Retail Performance & Experience team and why do it at Audi?
My mission since my first experience in retail was to find a way to make it easier to not only buy a car but also sell a car. Largely, it has been in the digital space but I found an opportunity with the Retail Performance & Experience team to make a measured difference throughout the buying experience. From a practical standpoint, we have around 300 dealers and a fantastic product portfolio - this isn’t a behemoth like GM, and we have the opportunity with our dealer network to really shake up the industry from an experience perspective. Now for part two of the question, I'm simply an Audi geek. I've been in love with the brand since I laid my eyes on the Audi TT and S4 almost 20 years ago.
What's one of the most memorable projects you've worked on in your role for Audi?
In my current role, it’s the consulting project. I really think we can field a team of experts that will help guide our dealers into a very interesting, if not disruptive, time.
Previous to this role, I was an on-site partner and collaborated with my colleague Doug Kushin on the Tier 3 Retail Digital Program. That project was to deliver a retail digital platform to our dealer body – dealer websites and advertising solutions. In the past, it was often times a very bare bones website program with not a lot of the additional features dealers needed to do their jobs, so the platform, all within a single log-in, allows a dealer to manage almost anything they want to within the digital space – not only their website, but their advertising, social media, video and the ability to syndicate content out to third parties – this program is all-encompassing. And it isn't just a technology solution, we incorporated a field team to ensure our dealers understand the full power of the platform and work with them on an ongoing basis to make sure they are optimizing the platform. Every Audi dealer has it and more than 95 percent of dealers use it as their exclusive dealer platform. That project was my biggest success in my career and yielded results that are still held as the industry standard for a T3 retail website program.
What one word best describes you?
Where did you grow up?
Brooklyn, New York! Yes, everything is better in New York: Pizza, bagels, hotdogs, etc...
I grew up in the Sunset Park neighborhood, near Bay Ridge. We had a diverse population of Puerto Rican-, Irish- and Italian-Americans.
Most days were filled with stickball, street football or freeze tag. New York was a different place back when I was growing up, but I wouldn’t change my childhood for anything. When I was growing up in the 80s, crime was at its peak and had really taken hold of my neighborhood, so it could be viewed as a dangerous place. That being said, it was very family-oriented – the biggest small town you could imagine, because you could go anywhere in a ten-block radius and people still knew you and they knew your mother.
Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to sing. There is nothing like watching a powerful singer take over a crowd. Personally, I would just like to dominate the local karaoke circuit. I'll have to settle for making my son’s ears bleed on long drives.Read All Stories